The Hardin family had a low-key Thanksgiving this year. Out of thirty-three immediate family members, thirteen attended. Despite the low turnout, we prepared and ate the same way we do every year. With the precision of a well-crafted Molotov cocktail. Take a look at the video.
Our parents Mike and Linda hosted. They enjoy planning Thanksgiving like tailgating fans hanging out before a playoff game. Half the excitement happens before the event starts. Since this year’s turnout was lower than most Thanksgivings, Mom and Dad’s planning buzz was like partying before a Pop Warner football game.
Besides my parents and me, the youngest son Nathan, his wife Peyton and their five children added to the merriment. The oldest son Chris, his wife Denise and their son James also contributed to the festivities.
David, the second son, and his wife Maureen live in North Carolina and spend Thanksgiving with us every other year. They weren’t here this year and when they do come, it’s a big to do. Like voting for a Congressman or watching the Ryder Cup golf tournament.
The third son Greg and his wife Tricia went to her family’s house for Thanksgiving. Tom, the fourth son, and his wife Lisa spent Thanksgiving with their daughter Rebecca.
Mom cherishes the entire family spending time together and accepts no-shows the way farmers accept droughts. An optimistic “Next year.”
The Hardin Thanksgiving as we practice it today originated in our parents’ Indiana roots and raising six boys in the seventies.
Inflation soared throughout the seventies. As a result, raising six boys meant frugality and efficiency trumped luxury and caprice in food preparation.
To this day, parsley gilds the lily.
In the seventies, our Thanksgiving breakfast splurge was a bowl of Lucky Charms. More important than the cereal was the prize inside the box.
As a result, pre-turkey bloodshed became a distinct possibility and Mom took on the dual role of scrum divider and triage medic.
Since we’re adults now, the childhood cereal wars have reached détente. Competitive one liners, puns and embarrassing anecdotes have replaced the fisticuffs and subsequent vendettas.
Our parents have always split the cooking duties. Mom is the pie czar, baking multiple pies the day before Thanksgiving. She diligently rolls dough, prepares the fillings and makes sure we have enough aerosol whipped topping.
Dad takes care of the bird and dressings. This year, he took a well deserved break from cooking and Nathan assumed kitchen responsibilities.
Dad and Nathan are a study in cooking contrasts. Our father would use a slide ruler to measure seasonings if he could. On the other hand, Nathan puts cooking and professional wrestling in the same realm. The outcome of both is pre-determined and involve brute force as well as melodrama.
Even with their style differences, Nathan consults with Dad to guarantee the meal’s success. Especially the Oyster Dressing.
Oyster dressing has been a vital component of the Hardin Thanksgiving menu since 1936. Our grandfather Al Hardin loved oysters, which were an extravagance in landlocked Indianapolis at that time. The oyster dressing remains as an homage to our grandfather even though many family members consider eating oysters a form of hazing.
Once the meal is ready, we circle the buffet, not unlike kimodo dragons closing in on an injured water buffalo.
Then we sit down and wait for the first klutzy maneuver.
Chris’s wife Denise spilling a glass of water on the dinner table turned into the butterfinger moment of the evening. Nothing major, but the overturned water-glass soon transitioned into an in-depth discussion regarding the demise of furniture craftsmanship. This shift in thought process is typical at our family dinners.
Our holiday dinners eventually become a game of telephone with a conference call.
With so many people speaking at once in close quarters, hearing one word or phrase out of context unpredictably shifts the discussion. Mention the word “eggplant” and the discussion veers from a shade of black to Italian food, then swerves to the history of immigration in the state of Indiana.
During dinner, someone will latch onto an out-of-context expression and make it the running joke of the evening. This year, the gag was “the good dressing.”
Remember the oyster dressing? It became a controversial issue this year. Nathan and Chris loathe oysters and made their bivalve aversion a talking point this year. While we were gushing about each dish’s superlatives, Nathan and Chris described the sausage and cornbread dressing as the “good dressing”. “Is there any more good dressing? The good dressing is good.”
Our Mom, defending Al Hardin’s honor, sold the oyster dressing infomercial style. “Wait! There’s more!” Since she was on the subject of Al Hardin, who bought the dining room table for our parents, Mom also gave the table’s back story.
The entire Hardin family might get together next year. The noise will increase, the conversation will scatter. We will have oyster dressing. Moreover, if nothing spills or breaks, Mom has promised to make a pie with a Lucky Charms crust. And, a prize inside.
If you enjoy time with family, like and share this post. And, comments are always welcome. There might be a prize.
2 thoughts on “A Hardin Thanksgiving (Video)”
Lots of work goes into a Thanksgiving feast. It’s worth it when family comes together to celebrate.
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Couldn’t agree more! The results are worth every milligram of energy that goes into the sumptuous repast that revolves around the bird.